Connecticut’s labor market fell off a cliff in July and was unable to make up all of the losses in August, according to the latest numbers released by the Connecticut Department of Labor.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the 1,700 job gain that it reported in July down to a loss of 800 jobs — a downward correction of 2,500 jobs. It also found that the state only added 300 jobs in August.
At the same time Connecticut’s unemployment rate ticked down one tenth of a point to 5.6 percent, but that’s still three-tenths of a percent higher than it was a year ago.
“A relatively quiet month in Connecticut’s labor market as our unemployment rate continues to decline for the second consecutive month,” Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, said. “However, July’s increase of 1,700 jobs was revised down by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to a loss of 800.”
Private sector employment fell by 1,500 in August, but has grown by 16,200 jobs over the year. The government supersector gained 1,800 jobs last month and remains up over the year by about 2,400 jobs.
Connecticut has now recovered 96,600 positions, or 81.1 percent of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state during the recession. That number would have been up to 83 percent if July’s 1,700-job gain had held up.
The state now needs to reach the 1,713,300 seasonally adjusted job mark to enter an employment expansion. This will require 22,500 additional nonfarm jobs to be created.
Connecticut’s private sector has reclaimed employment at a better pace, recovering 103,200 of the 111,700 private sector positions that were lost during that same employment downturn.
But Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners in New Haven, said the new job numbers can at best be described as “treading water.”
However, in reality the state is now “losing ground,” according to Klepper-Smith. When the monthly fluctuations are ironed out the year-to-date job growth is 0.9 percent, which is under the national average of 1.8 percent, he said.
“Again, this underscores the fact that our ‘business as usual’ economic development strategies in Connecticut simply aren’t cutting it, and that change is in order,” Klepper-Smith said in his analysis.
He said the good new is that Connecticut is still seeking a small job gain over the year, but “the bad news is that the Connecticut economy is clearly facing major obstacles to growth heading into the fall and weakness is readily apparent in many of the real-time economic metrics.”
Connecticut Business and Industry Association Economist Pete Gioia called the report “bitterly disappointing.”
He said the labor market information comes on the heels of news that Pratt & Whitney’s will create 8,000 new jobs in Connecticut over the next decade.
“Just as we’re celebrating that, these numbers show that the state economy’s foundation needs to be fortified,” Gioia said.
Part of the job gains in August were driven, in part, by 1,800 new government jobs. The sectors that experienced the most growth were education and health service, leisure and hospitality, and information.
The private sector lost 1,500 jobs, led by construction. Other services lost 1,400 jobs, followed by professional and business services, financial services, and manufacturing.
“Financial services, manufacturing, and construction are key sectors to the recovery of quality jobs in the state,” Gioia said.